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2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Guinea Bissau

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Guinea Bissau, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 21 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 1,600,000
Capital: Bissau
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 138 – 182

Trade union rights are guaranteed in law, but with limitations. However, the law is not respected and the environment is still largely anti-union. The government finally paid wage arrears to public sector workers, but some, such as health workers, still missed out.


Restrictions exist despite fundamental trade rights being granted; all workers have the right to form and join trade unions. However, the provisions in the Labour Code on antiunion discrimination are inadequate as they only protect trade union delegates and are not coupled with sufficiently dissuasive sanctions.

Most wages are established in bilateral negotiations between workers and employers, but a tripartite National Council for Social Consultation holds consultations on wages and employment legislation. Finally, workers have the right to strike and are protected by law from employer retaliation.


Background: The country has a massive foreign debt and an economy which relies heavily on foreign aid. The European Union (EU) announced in August that it was ending its mission to reform Guinea Bissau's security forces, noting a lack of respect for the rule of law was making its work impossible. In December the EU threatened to suspend development aid unless Guinea Bissau restored democratic norms.

Violent suppression: The country has a history of violently suppressing trade union activity, which as the ILO has pointed out constitutes a serious obstacle to the free exercise of trade union rights.

Government reneges on agreement – again: After long delays and repeated broken promises the government announced it finally had the money to pay off civil servants' salary arrears in January, thanks largely to European Union (EU) grants. In April, however, health workers went on strike over a continued failure to pay arrears and teachers also complained that they had not been fully paid.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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